Corrections staff want two-year wage freeze to end
After two years of wage freezes, members of Ontario’s largest public sector union fear it could be extended longer.
The contract for Ontario’s jail guards expired Dec. 31, 2014.
So those members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), held a day of protests Monday at jails and courthouses across the province, including in London.
Despite the frigid cold, about 50 protesters gathered at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre to send a message to Premier Kathleen Wynne.
"She's insisting on four zero per cent wage increases and that's not on as far as the members are concerned,” says Ron Elliot, OPSEU regional vice-president
While jail staff are spearheading these protests across the province, they say it's about the collective bargaining process for all members.
But corrections officers also believe provincial cost-saving efforts mean critical occupational health and safety concerns won’t be addressed.
At EMDC, guards say they deal with overcrowding and dated, unreliable equipment.
Windsor’s South West Detention Centre was supposed to relieve some of the pressure, but it’s still not fully operational. Union members believe both facilities will remain understaffed.
"None of the laws have changed, but all the rules have changed administratively, with us. And it's a lot harder to do our job safely and we have a problem with that,” says Dominic Bragaglia, OPSEU Local 108 president.
More contract talks are planned after both sides met Monday.